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The Dividend Champions spreadsheet and PDF have been updated through 9/28/12 and are available here. Note that all references to Champions mean companies that have paid higher dividends for at least 25 straight years; Contenders have streaks of 10-24 years; Challengers have streaks of 5-9 years. "CCC" refers to the universe of Champions, Contenders, and Challengers.

Bountiful Harvest

September featured a pick-up in dividend increases, as expected. Most companies that typically announce increases during the month did so, and more of the same is in store for the last few months of the year. I still expect a bit of "shrinkage" in the CCC universe, as we enter the fourth quarter, since some companies face deletion if they fail to increase the amount that they have been paying throughout 2011 and 2012. These "frozen" dividend rates are spelled out in my recent article, which can be found here. Longer-term, there should be an expansion in the listing of "Near-Challengers" (in Appendix B on the Notes tab) next year, based on a proliferation of companies declaring increases for the third straight year in 2012, and a continuing trend of "graduations" from Challenger to Contender status and from Contender to Champion.

Quick Summary

The Summary tab includes a table comparing the composite numbers from the latest update to those from the previous month and the end of the previous year. Below that is a summary of the latest month's activity, in terms of companies added, deleted, or promoted. That is reflected below:

Quick Summary:

9/28/12

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

105

178

187

470

Ave. No. of Years

38.9

14.4

7.2

17.0

Average Price

54.73

50.23

44.06

48.78

Average Yield

2.86

3.05

3.43

3.16

Ave. MR Increase

7.31

8.73

9.63

8.77

8/31/12

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

105

176

190

471

Ave. No. of Years

38.8

14.4

7.2

17.0

Average Price

53.24

49.36

43.15

47.72

Average Yield

2.95

3.06

3.45

3.19

Ave. MR Increase

7.42

8.56

10.02

8.87

12/30/11

Champs

Contdrs

Challgrs

Total

No. of Companies

102

146

200

448

Ave. No. of Years

38.7

15.1

7.2

17.0

Average Price

49.98

46.20

42.62

45.46

Average Yield

2.94

3.10

3.36

3.18

Ave. MR Increase

7.24

8.47

10.99

9.39

MR = Most Recent

Additions:

Hickory Tech Corp. (HTCO) to Challengers

Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) to Challengers

Deletions:

PG&E Corp. (NYSE:PCG) from Challengers

Sanderson Farms Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM) from Challengers

United Community Bancorp (ICBA) from Challengers

Promotions:

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) from Challengers to Contenders

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) from Challengers to Contenders (FY Streak)

(Table from author; may include underlying data from FinViz.com)

Let's Go to the Chart

As a bonus, I'm inserting one of Chuck Carnevale's F.A.S.T. Graphs below, highlighting one of the companies listed above. When the stock's price line has moved into the green area, it suggests that the stock may be undervalued in relation to its earnings.

click to enlarge image

Source: Dividend Champions For October 2012